Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Earth Mother Friends

I was in the western part of Virginia last month visiting my family.  (I'll save my comments on the humidity for a time when I really have nothing else to write about.)  Through the miracle that is social media, I have connected over the last few years with two dear friends from college who also happen to live in this area.  Finally, we made plans on this trip to meet.

So I packed my three kids and my mom in the car and we drove sixty-plus miles through winding country lanes, up gravel single-car roads, past 182 cows & 98 sheep, and some incredibly beautiful rolling Virgina hills spotted with haybales.  And at the end of the winding road, on top of a lovely hill, were these two crazy gals and NINE kids (between the two of them).  We stood in the driveway hugging and jumping around in a circle in giggly disbelief that we were actually laying eyes on each other again.
My daughter, chickens, goat...and Elizabeth.

Nothing had changed.  And everything had changed.  Our cores were the same.  The reasons we loved each other back in college and could laugh for hours at our complete silliness, yet talk seriously about life...that was still there.  But instead of standing in front of a call-board or in a Movement For Actors class (yes, we were theatre majors), I visited these women in their homes that were filled with children's artwork, chalkboard walls, colorful murals, mix-matched chairs and squeals of laughter.  Outside were chickens, roosters, goats, and a duck named Elizabeth. And glorious views of green hills and horses beyond their gardens of homegrown goodness.

My delicious friends had become beautiful Earth mothers.  Love and babies and dirt and fresh eggs. It just pulled me in.  There was something so, I don't know, joyous (?) about their lives.  Their appreciation of the land, their friendship with each other's families, the love of the small town in which they lived and all of the farmers they'd come to was an enviable world.  At least I envied it.  The happy chaos managed with such grace was definitely to be admired.  At one point during our visit, one of my friends was making lunch for...oh five adults and TWELVE kids...and she was being surrounded closer and closer by hungry kids in the kitchen.  This would have sent me into a screaming fit ending in the fetal position, but she just put her hands up and said with her typical smile "get up off me!" (I don't know why that phrase made me laugh).  And she regained her space, going back to preparing lunch and chit-chatting.  Together, these two friends of mine run a Montessori camp this summer (which will be preschool in the fall) and started a theatre company in an old empty theatre space in their small town.  All while raising spectacular children (and chickens, roosters, goats, and a duck named Elizabeth).  The fullness of their lives overflowed to me and I'm still carrying it with me.

Back home in Seattle for a month since I spent the day with my old friends, and I still feel pulled to find the joyful chaos in my own home.  As I contemplate the difference in how I approach my life compared to my precious Earth mothers, I realize that I don't surrender enough.  They do.  They don't fight against the constant motion, the noise, the laundry, the goat poop on the front porch...they just go with it.  (Don't be confused by the word surrender.  They discipline and have the respect of their families.  "Get up off me" was immediately understood.)  Unlike them, I try to control the craziness, or expect things to be "just so" in order for everyone to find enjoyment.  I learned, in the rolling hills of Virginia, that life is in the motion.  The joy is the chaos. The moments of silence (few & far between for these women) are precious and when we can take some time to reflect on how blessed these lives of our's are.  

I suppose I could be simplifying the "meaning of life" for many people.  Or maybe overthinking it for some.  But when you take a step back and really look at how your days are spent, give some thought to how well you surrender yourself to what's in front of you.  How many times can you stop and just let the moment be?  It's not easy.  I'm working on it.  I have my Earth mother friends to guide me.  They are true teachers.  And, if you don't stop long enough sometimes, you can miss how inspiring a bunch of chickens, roosters, goats, and a duck named Elizabeth really can be.

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